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LINGUIST List 18.2179

Wed Jul 18 2007

Diss: Applied Ling/Disc Analysis/Socioling: Atanga: ' Gendered Disc...'

Editor for this issue: Hunter Lockwood <hunterlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Lem Atanga, Dissertation Abstract

Message 1: Dissertation Abstract
Date: 17-Jul-2007
From: Lem Atanga <lilyatangayahoo.com>
Subject: Dissertation Abstract
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Institution: Lancaster University
Program: Department of Linguistics and Modern English Language
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Lem Lilian Atanga

Dissertation Title: Gendered Discourses in the Cameroonian Parliament

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
                            Discourse Analysis

Dissertation Director:
Jane Sunderland LN

Dissertation Abstract:

With globalisation, traditional gendered practices in most, if not all
post-colonial countries are changing. While what can be seen as male
dominance is still very much in evidence, in many aspects of public and
private life, masculine power continues to be challenged and even subverted
in different ways.This thesis focuses on the role of discourse in the study
of language and gender in the Cameroonian parliament.

The study is both quantitative and qualitative. Looking at Discussion and
Question-and-Answer sessions in the parliament, I examined the amount of
male and female talk and the gendered distribution of topics, as well as
how female and male parliamentarians were addressed (i.e. titulation).
Using Critical Discourse Analysis (the discourse-historical approach (e.g.
Reisigl and Wodak, 2001)), I continued by looking in depth at the available
'traditional' and modern, 'progressive' discourses articulated by MPs and
how these were legitimated through different discursive strategies. Lastly,
because I see power as contingent and not absolute, I explored gender,
discourse and fluctuating power.

The quantitative analysis of talk in the parliament showed that
'traditional' discourse practices are evident in this 'modern' setting,
evidenced by disproportionate masculine verbosity and feminine (relative)
silence. Traditional differential constructions of gender identity were
also evident in titulation.

Critical discourse analyses showed that 'traditional' gendered discourses
tended to construct men and women in gender differentiated ways,
legitimated discoursally in ways which included social, cultural and
institutional discourses, and arguments for what I call 'the model
traditional Cameroonian woman' macro-discourse as well as for maintenance
of the status quo more widely. The 'traditional' gendered discourses were
however also appropriated, even subverted, through the articulation and
legitimation of counter modern and 'progressive' discourses which construct
men and women in more equal ways, legitimating in particular positive
action for women. Critical Discourse Analysis study illustrates the
complexity of the nature of gender and institutional (parliamentary)
discourse, and the provisional nature of power. While sexism in the wider
Cameroonian society may not be as 'subtle' as is sometimes now claimed of
'western' societies, there is nevertheless evidence that gender relations
in Cameroon are improving, supported by social and discoursal forces which
are global, national and institutional.

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